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Parshat Mishpatim (5770)
This week we learn many of the detailed laws that G-d gave on Mount Sinai to Jews.
These G-dly laws embrace and affect all creation from the deepest and most esoteric spiritual worlds and levels of the Jewish soul to even the most mundane aspects of gentile jurisprudence.
For instance, "If you see the donkey of someone you hate stumbling under its burden; help, help with him." (23:5)
The simple meaning is that in order to alleviate the suffering of another you must help even someone who you justifiably hate, to unload his stumbling animal.
The Baal Shem Tov explained things even more deeply.
He explained that the word for donkey, "Chamor" also means physicality i.e. this material world (chumriut).
And the personal Torah lesson here is that when we see 'our donkey' (the world around us), causing us to 'stumble under our burden, then the solution is; "help, help with it"; namely increase in positive, helpful thoughts, speech, and deeds that 'help' us to regain our attachment to the Creator. And not try to purge our bad character traits with negativity.
This is also hinted at in the second sentence of our Torah portion. "When you (Moses) take a Hebrew servant"; namely that Moses' job is to make 'Hebrew servants', even from those who have problems with their 'donkeys'.
Here is a story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe to help us understand this. (HaGeula #496)
Jewish people like to talk. Perhaps this is because they are called 'Sons of G-d' (Ex. 4:22) and G-d Himself likes to talk: He created the world and gave the Torah through speech and according to the teachings of Kabala this speech is constant; G-d speaks 'non-stop' and renews the creation and the Torah constantly.
And perhaps the most talkative Jews of all time was the last Lubavitcher Rebbe. He had a lot to say and a lot of followers that thirsted for his every word. As a result there are hundreds of books filled with his speeches, public discourses advices and answers. But the highlight of his speeches was his Shabbat and holiday get-togethers called 'Farbrengens'.
On these occasions the Rebbe would often speak for five or even more hours to thousands of Chassidim, many of whom came from the four corners of the world to hear him. And more than they wanted to hear and learn the Rebbe wanted to speak and teach.
One outstanding example was the year 1975. It was an unusually active one even for the Rebbe. The Rebbe did not miss an opportunity to make a Farbrengen and that year made over one hundred of them; almost two per week! The Chassidim were overjoyed! Every Shabbat and holiday was packed with deep, interesting, practical information.
So no one could understand why the Rebbe did not speak on two of the most important dates in Chabad; the Ninth and Tenth days of the Jewish month Kislev.
The Ninth is the date that second Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rebbe Dov Ber 1773-1827) was born and passed away (the same date 54 years later) and the Tenth of Kislev is the date that he was released from Czarist imprisonment in 1826. These days hold very vital messages and the Rebbe had much to say; but that year he didn't say anything and no one could figure out why.
Even more, that year the Ninth of Kislev fell on Shabbat; so everyone was certain that there would be a farbrengen. All the Chassidim were ready. But nothing happened. No one understood. Theories popped up and faded away but only a few weeks later the Rebbe called one of his secretaries and explained. He said that he knew that everyone was wondering why he didn't speak on those two days and now he is revealing the reason.
He said that several months earlier he had received a letter from a mother in Crown Heights (the neighborhood of Chabad) complaining about how her son was suffering at the hands of the other pupils in his school there. It seems her son was unusual; perhaps a bit slower than his classmates perhaps with other problems as well, but for some reason he had no friends and the other boys were making his life miserable.
So the Rebbe advised her to contact the principal of the school who certainly would correct the situation and then report back to him. But a few weeks later she wrote him back saying that she took his advice and spoke to the principal but things had not changed. The boys were still making trouble for her son.
So the Rebbe called one of his personal secretaries, Rabbi Mordechi Isaac Hodokov, told him the story and ordered him to call the principal of the school, tell him to correct the situation and conclude with the words, "The Rebbe said to tell you, Does the principal expect me (The Rebbe) to personally come to the school and fix things up?!"
Of course the problem was fixed immediately but not completely; the boy still had no friends and was miserable.
A few weeks later, on Shabbat, was the day before that boy's Bar Mitzva. He was to be called to read from the Torah in public, have a small party in the Synagogue afterwards and then the next day, on Sunday, would be his big Bar Mitzva party.
But the boy had a heavy heart. Nothing ever seemed to really go right for him. He really wanted that his Bar Mitzva would be a lot of fun like all the other boys but it didn't look like it would.
He knew that that year the Rebbe had made Farbrengens at every opportunity and certainly the Rebbe would speak for hours on the days of his parties; the 9th and 10th of Kislev! (Especially because that year the 9th fell out on Shabbat) He was sure that everyone would run to hear the Rebbe and again he would be left alone.
But imagine his surprise and happiness when the Rebbe announced he would neither speak that Shabbat nor the day after! In fact all the rejoicing everyone expected to do at the Rebbe's Farbrengens, they instead put into the boy's Bar Mitzva parties!
And that is exactly the reason the Rebbe didn't speak; certainly it was a great sacrifice for the Rebbe but it was worth it to him to insure that one young boy would be happy!
This is an example to us. The Rebbe saw that the boy was suffering under life's burdens and he wanted to lighten things up; even though it meant a great sacrifice for the Rebbe personally.
He was teaching us a big lesson.
Sometimes we must sacrifice ourselves, even our spiritual selves and advancement, in order to help someone else.
This is the job of Moses of each generation and will be completely accomplished by Moshiach; to make everyone into a 'Hebrew Servant'.
Just as Moses took the Jews from slavery and provided for all their material and spiritual needs so they could be free to serve their Creator, so Moshiach will alleviate the problems of all mankind and teach them to 'serve' the Almighty.
Therefore Moshiach is described as riding on a 'donkey' 'Chamor' (Zech. 9:9); because he will take the 'Chomriut' physical burdens and distractions of the world and elevate them to become a vehicle for human advancement and joy.
It all depends on us. We must do all we can to raise others up, even at our own expense. And this will turn the flow of energy to reveal ……
And because this Shabbat also ushers in the Joyous month of Adar we wish you all...
Moshiach NOW in JOY!
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